A day-by-day Broncos player breakdown is something we've been doing since our days at BroncoTalk nearly a decade ago. This year the tradition continues as we look at the Denver Broncos roster heading into the 2015 season in our 90-in-90 series.
Today we take a look at Pete's favorite - Running Back Montee Ball.
Name: Montee Ball
Position: Running Back
Height: 5-10 Weight: 215 lbs
Age: 24 Experience: 3rd Season
Ok look, lets face the facts here, I'm biased towards liking Montee Ball. I've made no attempts to hide the fact that I think he's tailor-made for this offense ala Terrell Davis. However, I'm also not blind to the fact that C.J. Anderson earned the starting gig (even if it came because Montee was injured in the preseason last year and never should have played in any games last season).
So what is my outlook for Montee in 2015 with a new coaching staff, new offense, and new scheme? Well, to be quite honest, like C.J. Anderson said last season, "When I get my chance, I'm gonna take over." That's pretty much what I expect out of Montee in 2015. He's made for this scheme and this offense. All he'll need is his opportunity. But will that ever come? That's the thousand-yard question.
The Good: The good news is that this scheme fits Montee to a "T". He was made to run behind a zone scheme. He spent his entire life idolizing Terrell Davis and molding his style around Davis' style. Well, I'm pretty sure I don't need to remind anyone about how amazing TD was behind this very offense, do I?
Look, I can be harsh in the heat of the moment (or have you not read my post game Instant Reaction pieces?). But I haven't been down on Montee, even with his struggles last year. The reason for that is because a) he was legitimately injured last season, b) probably should have gone on Injured Reserve in the preseason, and c) had absolutely zero help from the offensive line, which was evident by him routinely being hit 3-5 yards behind the line of scrimmage on each handoff.
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The mere fact that he gained positive yardage overall is a testament to how tough and skilled he really is. He had a long run of 23 yards last year and is a pretty decent pass catcher. He just needed a little help from the line to really get going. I refuse to pin his shaky stats solely on his shoulders. I just can't. By the time CJ got going, the line was playing better and the offense shifted to a more ground attack offense. What would Montee have done in that scenario? Would he have been as effective as CJ? Would he have been better? Would he have been worse? The jury is still out, but I refuse to believe that Montee would have been a 3.1ypc rusher in the back half of the season if we were dedicated to the run and he wasn't playing with a torn groin.
The Bad: Montee can be indecisive at times. He needs to find his hole and run to it. Now, perhaps he was hesitant because he was playing with a torn groin. Perhaps it was because just like quarterbacks behind a sieve of an offensive line, Montee knew that he was a sitting duck back there no matter what? Whatever the reason, he underperformed last year and opened the door for CJ Anderson to take over, and reports from mini-camp said that although Montee looks amazing when holes open up, he's still too indecisive. He needs to work on that aspect of his game if he plans on extended playing time as well as living up to his draft status.
Outlook: The running back battle in camp will be one of the top 3 heated competitions. In one corner, you have CJ Anderson, and in the other you have Montee Ball. Am I discrediting Ronnie Hillman and Juwan Thompson? Yes, yes I am. Thompson will be more fullback than running back, and Hillman doesn't add much to the running back stable as I simply don't believe that you need a small quick guy to counter the main workhorse back.
Did Terrell Davis need a Tatum Bell type back to help the Broncos win back to back super bowls? Did Emmitt Smith need a Ronnie Hillman to help the Cowboys? Did Marshawn Lynch need a scat back to help the Seahawks win? I can go on and on and on, but the answer will always be the same; No, there is never a winning formula that takes the main workhorse back off the field for a scat back/change of pace back simply because the modern-day Mein Kampf says "you should do it." That's hogwash. When you have a workhorse back who needs a breather, you put in your workhorse #2 back. The style will be the same and the effectiveness will be the same. If your Ferrari needs a pit stop for gas, you don't jump in the Honda Civic and take it out driving, you jump in your other Ferrari and win the damn race! That's why I'm disregarding Hillman on this team and that's why CJ and Montee will be the backs who get almost all of the carries. And let's not forget that CJ has great hands and so does Montee. We don't even need Hillman in for passes as these two backs are more than capable of getting the job done themselves, and get it done they will.
What are your expectations from Montee Ball? Sound off below.